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Freedom House: The Change of Power in 2019 Did Not Depoliticize the Audiovisual Regulatory Authority

06 May 2020
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The situation of the press in the Republic of Moldova kept worsening in 2019, and the change of power in the middle of the previous year did not lead to the depoliticization of the audiovisual regulatory authority, according to the Nations in Transit 2020 report compiled by Freedom House. According to the document, the Republic of Moldova remains a country with a transitional or hybrid regime. 

This year, Moldova has climbed one position in the ranking, gaining a score of 35 points out of 100. In terms of mass media independence, our country has been awarded three points out of seven possible (where 1 is the lowest democratic progress level, and 7 is the highest). The document demonstrates that the problems faced by the independent media remain the same: intimidation of journalists, lack of access to high-quality information and content, advertising market concentration, and insufficient independence of the TRM public broadcaster.

The report mentions that the previous year’s change of power did not depoliticize the regulatory authorities, and the essential media institutions affiliated with the Democratic Party merely repositioned themselves adjusting to the increasing influence of the Socialist Party. “After June, the PSRM replaced the DPM as the dominant power in the Audiovisual Council, the media regulatory authority in the country”, the researcher Victor Gotisan points out.

The author observes that the media sector has actually become even more fragmented as a result of the previous year’s political unrest. “Oligarchic control over the prominent media institutions and politicized regulation divided the sector from within”. On the other hand, Victor Gotisan draws attention to the fact that, in 2019, no significant legislative initiative which could stimulate the development in the sector was adopted.

Besides, several draft laws – the advertising law, the initiative for supporting socially relevant periodical media, and the amendments to the law on access to information – were not voted for by the Parliament at the final reading session. During the Filip Government, adopting the initiatives was postponed, and to the Sandu Government, they were not a priority either, whereas the Cabinet of Ministers headed by Ion Chicu did not even consider the media issues in its action plan, as the expert emphasizes.

In spite of this, the authors of the document remark that public confidence in the press remains significant, according to the polls.

Nations in Transit is a multidimensional study regarding reforms in the former communist states in Europe and Eurasia. The report published by Freedom House on a yearly basis focuses on the results of the reforms in 29 countries and administrative regions.